I am often asked by many frustrated Moms, “How do I get my little one to eat what the rest of the family is eating?” I ask my normal Mommy question, did they try the meal and not like it? Most times the answer is “No they just don’t want it so I make them something else and my husband and I eat the planned meal.”
I find so many families are making several different meals every night not only does this make a long day even longer but it causes cranky times at dinner when it should be family time.
How do we get everyone to eat the same meal? I always suggest menu planning I would give each child their day to choose a side dish so they have some input and they also know that it is their day that always makes them excited for dinner time. But and I mean But they have to try or eat the other things on their plate. I don’t say they have to finish everything on their plates but they have to at least try them. Mom you cannot budge on this once you fall back and make them what they want the next day is going to be even harder.
Another way is to have them help you prepare the meal, I know working all day and then having to cook with your little one can be tough. I can relate I am a mom of two boys and yes I had one picky eater and one who ate everything. I cook all day for my clients and the last thing I would want to do is come home and cook with my children. I love them to bits but I was tired and the quicker I was able to make the meal get it on the table and clean up was what I was looking for. So I designated one Saturday a month where they got to help me cook. They helped through the whole process from menu planning, shopping and preparing the meals.
Age appropriate tasks of course I normally go by the following rules 7 and under I would put the ingredients in small prep bowls and they would add it in when the recipe called for it. I would also let them mix with my help.
7 yrs to 10yrs they can peal potatoes and carrots use measuring spoons and cups and read the recipe this helps with math skills and direction following. If making meatballs or meatloaf I would let them get in there with their hands and mix it up. Kids love hands on tasks and it makes them feel good about themselves when they are the big helpers. 10 and up you can start introducing knife skills.
After the meal was prepared I ask them to help with table setting some days we would eat by candle light others they would do silly napkin art, they loved serving their dad his dinner when he came home from work. They would make him close his eyes at the door, as they would guide him to his seat. Little things like this makes them excited about sitting down and eating what they have prepared or contributed in be it planning or actually cooking with you. What is better then sharing time in the kitchen and bonding with your kids? I know my picky eater isn’t picky any longer.
Now get out there and enjoy dinner time again and watch your children grow into happy little eaters!!